How to get rid of an addiction to a game

This is the second post in the productivity and habit formation series, which I call ‘Better You’. Here is the first post: “Thinking no but saying yes?

Lets dive into today’s topic. How I quit playing Candy Crush (in 3 simple steps):

I had a love-hate relationship with Candy Crush for months! We all know why we love Candy Crush – it is the same reason for hating it! Because it is such a time killer. Every time I closed the app after losing all my lives (I never bought/traded lives), I used to kick myself for wasting that past half hour doing something absolutely useless!

So after several failed attempts at promising myself not to play it any more, I decided to start with an easy target (step 1) and see how I cope with not playing for just two days. It was very difficult to resist but I told myself that at the end of two days, I would have the freedom to play as many number of times as I wanted. At the end of two days, I told myself “Why not try for another two days?”. After tricking myself (step 2) like this for a week and suddenly realising that it has been a week (A WEEK!!) since I played, I felt proud of myself. So I thought, “If I managed this far, I will stretch the challenge for a bigger step (step 3) of one more week”. This was different from the initial two days because this time, I knew right at the start that the coming streak was for one long week i.e. difficult level 2 (pun intended). Anyway, so, after playing these tricks with my mind, I now managed to quit my habit! It has been at least two months since I played and I don’t have an urge to play when I’m waiting in a queue, travelling etc. Bye bye Candy Crush. So long. I love(d) you.

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By the way, I considered deleting the app before I decided to take the first 2 day challenge but I couldn’t. I had reached 170+ level and I was concerned that I would repent deleting it later. Using the method that I adopted i.e. not deleting the app and yet managing to consciously quit the addiction, I, the mighty Candy Crusher, showed to the world what will-power (and a couple of cheeky mind tricks) can do. 🙂

This is one of the posts in productivity and habit formation series called ‘Better You’. Other posts in this series are: 

Thinking no but saying yes?

Thinking no but saying yes?

This post introduces the productivity and habit formation series called ‘Better You’ that I am planning to write every now and then. I feel that it is important for each one of us to grow constantly and become a better version of ourselves. With that thought in mind, I will be writing about how I form/quit habits and how I drive my productivity. Without further ado, lets dive into today’s topic.

Very often, we come across situations when we are asked to do something that we are unable to do or don’t want to do. It might be a work project that our boss has suddenly asked us to look at when we know we are already loaded with way too much work. Sometimes, it is a social obligation e.g. a friend’s birthday party. Whatever our reason for not being able to commit to that request, we find ourselves being in an uneasy or obligatory state and end up saying ‘Yes’ to the request. We know we want to say ‘No’ and yet we can’t muster the strength to say so.

 

If you must say yes, say it with an open heart. If you must say no, say it without any fear.

– Paulo Coelho

 

First of all, it is important to recognise what we are capable of handling, what we really want to do, what we really love to do, what our priorities are, what our long term goals are. That new project that the boss has asked us to take up, friend’s birthday party – we know they are all important things too. Yet, it is important to say ‘No’ to all those things that are not on the priority list so that we are able to pay attention to those that are. Otherwise, we’ll end up not doing anything well. We get carried away convincing ourselves that we will be able to do the perfect balancing act. It is tempting to think that just stretching ourselves a little bit more will allow us to do everything. Just one more hour at the desk. Just one more day or one last time. Just one less hour of sleep. And before we know, we work ourselves to the point of breakdown. Breakdown of health – mental or physical or both, breakdown of relationships with people around us, breakdown of our project/work performance, breakdown of our patience, breakdown of our peace.

Now that we understand the importance of saying ‘No’, lets move on to actually saying it. Once you start the conversation about saying ‘No’, remind yourself that there is no turning back however awkward or uneasy you feel. You know you have clearly prioritised other things over this. There is no point loitering and making things difficult for you and the people expecting an otherwise ‘Yes’ from you. But of course, we can learn to say ‘No’ politely and may be also explain our rationale behind it. There is no need to be rude, just plain simple ‘Sorry but No’ – clear, polite and firm. This is probably the most difficult part of this process but remember, it is not any more difficult than trying to do everything!

You have chosen your priorities and also mastered the art of saying ‘No’ to the less important things or distractions. Now what? Make sure you focus well on the priorities you have opted for. Give them your best and justify your choice of making them your priority amongst a million other things you could have done instead. It doesn’t end there. When life throws new unexpected things to deal with, recalibrate. Reassess your priorities in light of these new developments and repeat the same process again.

In no time, you will undoubtedly start seeing the benefits of this process of prioritising and de-prioritising and also being bold at saying ‘No’ to those low or nil priority things.

If you have any useful techniques for setting priorities or for saying ‘No’, please share them in the comments below. I hope you found this post useful. Stay tuned for the next post in this ‘Better You’ series where I will tell you the story of how I quit my addiction to playing Candy Crush.

 

 

A tale of 1000 origami cranes

Last week marked the half-way milestone for one of the craft projects that I’m currently working on. I thought I’d share my experience and the outcome here.

So it all started off with my google search on fun things to do for my birthday (like a wish-list or a bucket list). And I came across this bucket-list idea (from this blog) of making 1000 origami cranes and instantly, it made its way to my bucket-list. I decided to make it for someone special for their birthday in October. I learnt how to make an origami crane from this website: http://www.origami-instructions.com/origami-crane.html

The end result that I had in mind was to make 1000 origami cranes and hang them from our ceiling in the living room. I decided to make in yellow and blue as I thought they would look colourful and bright against our white ceiling. I did not work on my own on this project and instead took help, given that I had my normal full-time job to do everyday! I did not use the ready-made origami paper and instead cut the paper to size from scratch! In hindsight, that was not a very wise thing to do but I’ll talk about it a bit more in the ‘What I’ve learnt’ section below.

Here is a brief overview of the process and the end result of this fun project:

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Needless to say, they looked beautiful. My favourite part is watching them cradle when the wind blows (which is my happy corner (#11) for this post). They are still hanging from our ceiling and remind me everyday that no matter what, its important to keep going and that success will automatically follow 🙂

Now some insight into what I’ve learnt from this project:

  • Do not underestimate the time-scales. I’m usually good at planning but I did not pay much attention to the time this project would take since I thought 3 months would be ample time to make 1000 cranes. That turned out to be quite destructive as I could not make 1000 in time and had to compromise with 500 by October. I should have been more careful in my estimation.
  • Think efficiency, efficiency and efficiency. Due to the repetitive and mundane nature of the task, I made sure that I improved with each repetition and constantly looked for ways to increase the speed and quality. One costly (and related) lesson that I learnt was: outsource where you can. I should have bought the ready-made origami paper and saved time. This is an important tip for anyone looking to take a similar project.
  • Perseverance and ‘enjoying the journey’ are the crux of such large scale projects. Worrying about the end result and deadlines is not going to make the project finish any sooner. Enjoy every bit of the process. I discovered how much determination I had inside of me – to make one crane after the other.

I’m still working on this project by the way and I am still determined to complete 1000 cranes. I’m excited to see the finish line and check the box against this bucket-list item.

Just to reiterate, for anyone interested to learn how to make an origami crane, this website has a step-by-step process: http://www.origami-instructions.com/origami-crane.html. Enjoy!

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A birthday holiday

It was my birthday in August! And we (a bunch of close friends) went on a holiday to Goa for five days surrounding my birthday. We had a wonderful time there, particularly given the fact that mobile phone connectivity was poor and we hardly had any access to internet. It was such a refresher not to think about work or have any urges to check fb/mails/instagram.

Some fun facts about Goa and a few favourite snapshots from our lovely time there:

Of potted plants and lavender toe nails

It was such a nice change to experience little or no traffic in Goa. Unlike most other places in India, we did not find ourselves stuck even in a single traffic jam.

People in Goa are sweet, kind and friendly. I don’t remember anyone behaving rudely with us. May be because they’re so much used to tourists and outsiders being part of their everyday life?

Tunnel after tunnel in the train to Goa

The 3 arches in Goa

It was quite a mission to find proper Indian chai in Goa. After 4 days of hunting, we stumbled across a coffee shop which served Mumbai-famous ‘masala cutting chai’. Monsoon and chai…Mmmmmmmm 🙂

Masala cutting chai in Goa

Cakes and hot cuppas at Mocha, Goa

On my birthday, I decided to ride a motor bike! I wasn’t sure how long I would take to learn riding one. But after a short lesson which lasted less than a minute, I took control and voila! I drove like I always knew how to drive. It was so much fun! This is a definite addition to my happy corner (#9).

Driving a motorbike in Goa

While we waited for the rain to stop

It rained all day on my birthday. So while we waited indoors for the rain to take a break, I blew some bubbles in the air. Blow a bubble, watch it float in the air, chase it and then finally watch it burst. Repeat ‘n’ number of times. I promise it never gets boring.

At sunset time, we rushed to Fort Aguada to see the sunset (one of the things on my birthday wish-list). But alas, dark clouds => no sun => no sunset. But I got to do something fun (also one of the things on my birthday wish-list) while we stood on Fort Aguada at the sea. I wrote a short message on a piece of paper, folded it, put it in an empty bottle, sealed the bottle and swung it into the open sea. 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 (I know this makes it two additions to my happy corner (#10) in this post but hey! This HAS to go into that diary).

The message in the bottle carried one of the biggest epiphanies of my life. My most favourite part of this little act: not knowing what will happen to the message and the bottle.

Waiting to swing the 'message in a bottle' into the Arabian sea

Watching the bottle vanish

There were three other things I had on my birthday wish-list but unfortunately, the rain did not make it happen. The three unfulfilled things were: climb a tree, etch my name on that tree and watch the sunset at the sea. Adding them to my future birthday wish-list 🙂

Coming back home after the holiday made me remind myself of how much I love travelling. Sigh.

 

 

Taking stock – August 2014

As I’m guilty of vanishing and reappearing after a couple of weeks, I thought I should start August blogging with a ‘taking stock’ post. Read on, it’s fun!

I’m currently

Making : origami cranes
Cooking : penne pasta
Drinking : piping hot ginger tea, it’s a perfect cuppa for this rainy season. That also reminds me of my favourite Starbucks hot chocolate. One cup of that and I’ll be smiling instantly. Sadly, it has been ages since I had one 😦
Reading : ‘The power of your subconscious mind’ by Joseph Murphy and comic strips of Calvin & Hobbes
Wanting : a break from routine
Looking : for new ideas and inspiration for start-ups
Playing : Candy Crush (I know I should have deleted the app long ago) and Minion Rush on my mobile
Deciding : whether it is wise on my part to accept or act
Wishing : for the same thing I have been wishing for over an year now
Waiting : for the right time to throw an outdoor party on our terrace
Liking : the fact that it is August. Roughly 3 weeks to go for my birthday! 🙂
Wondering : what I should get glued to once my current daily telly programme finishes this month.
Needing : more than 24 hours in a day!
Pondering : over the dreams I’ve been seeing in my sleep lately. One of them involved a tiger wandering in our street!
Watching : my thoughts
Hoping : to go on a long weekend to Pondicherry
Smelling : the rain. Life’s gooooood 🙂 (I just love watching rains and they fill my Happy Corner #8). I remember writing about rains previously too, read this if interested.
Wearing : an uncomfortable pair of jeans, which looks grrrreat by the way 🙂
Following : or rather trying to follow my instincts
Noticing : that there is good in everybody
Feeling : confused
Admiring : people who know what they want to do with their life.
Getting : extremely bored of Facebook these days.
Bookmarking : this video which makes one think about social media, computers and mobiles. Decide for yourself if you agree.
Disliking : my frizzy hair, is there a version of rainy season where you are able to tame your hair?
Feeling : proud of myself for keeping up with my yoga routine; I’m notorious for starting this habit several times and failing to stick with it beyond a month or two. It has only been a month this time too so ask me in September again!
Loving : 2014 so far.

I came across this awesome idea of taking stock from this blog: http://meetmeatmikes.com/2014/01/taking-stock-004/ and thought it would be fun to do one myself.

 

Why blog after all?

This is one of the most obvious, no-brainer kind of a blog post in the blogging world. But, yesterday, when a close friend asked me why I blog, I stopped for a second before replying and then I said “It’s a long story”. And I felt a sense of compulsion to turn that long story into a blog post.

So, why do I blog? Before I answer that, I think it is important to know why I read/follow blogs.

Why I read blogs:

  • They inspire me. Blogs inspire in several ways – to take up a DIY project, to take a decision that will improve my life, to be bold and feel confident. e.g. I follow the A Beautiful Mess blog, their projects and their business are an inspiration. Some of their DIY posts are simple to do at home, particularly for someone with no prior experience. They are a lot of fun too!
  • I feel a sense of connectedness by reading some of the posts. For example, someone writing about a problem they have been facing and how they dealt with it makes me realise that I’m not the only one facing a similar problem and that a lot of other people are in the same boat too. Sometimes, a blogger might rant about something that frustrates them – which I might connect to instantly. I absolutely like the posts which have a funny twist to their rant, this alleviates the frustration and gives me a chance to lighten up and laugh about it.
  • I like the fact that I learn something new everyday from reading blogs. For example, I find that ZenHabits blog always has something to teach – how to form/get rid of a habit, being productive, learning to let go, practice mindfulness and in general, how to calm your nerves.
  • Some bloggers have a really beautiful way of describing simple everyday experiences like travelling up a fully-packed lift or watching a new season arrive or spending time on a long weekend.
  • Some blog posts make me laugh my head off – they make my day!
  • I love reading books and I find that reading blogs is a shorter version of that interest. When my life becomes too busy to pick up a book, I find that blogs quench my reading interest instead.

These are just a handful of the reasons why I love reading blogs. And these are also some of the reasons why I like to blog. To write about something that others can connect to, that will make someone smile or laugh, that will inspire someone to try one of my ideas or apply one of my theories/techniques and so on.

More importantly, I write because there is so much chatter going on in my head and I find blogging a fun and creative way of putting that mind-chatter into words, sentences and stories. Also importantly, I write because the thought of creating something from nothing – from a blank page to a full blog post is very exciting and also happens to be my way of de-stressing. Conversely, this is the reason why I blog despite my hectic life style, despite my crazy job and despite my other hobbies/interests.

 

Happy Corner #7: (Don’t know what Happy Corner is? Read this)

The other day, I found myself in the middle of a mess with regard to my bank card. Almost 99.99% of the calls that I have with the customer care guys of various services/products that I use, end up in me wanting to find out where this “customer care” office is and find the person who I have been speaking to for the last one hour, to check if it was a real person with a real brain! Imagine jaw clenching, hand on forehead, red face, hot face, clenched fists, you get the idea. That’s how my calls with customer care turn into. Be it any customer care – travel agent, hotel booking, bank, mobile operator, online shopping.

So, I was very reluctant to sort this issue out by calling the customer care but I had no choice. Guess what happened next. This guy sorted ALL the issues (I had 4 serious issues) with the card in less than half hour! I was shocked! It was a revelation! I was overwhelmed, so I asked the guy what his name was and told him what a star he has been. I asked him if there was anyway I could put my gratitude in writing and he gave me an email address (one for good feedback) to write to. And so I did. The end of the call left a smile on my face, not just because the daunting problem with my card got solved but mainly because, the feeling of getting off the phone with customer care and not having my blood pressure hitting the maximum was a brand new experience and I owe to that guy for giving me this hitherto unknown experience and my happy corner for this post.

 

Dear June 2014

Dear June,

You have:

  • taught me how well I could work if I did not take the stress of deadlines. Deadlines are in the future, the only wise thing I can do right now is to give my best and not worry about the final outcome.
  • changed constantly. Although daunting to start with, it has been fun to see that I did well in adapting to the changes.
  • pushed me out of my comfort zone and taught me how to enjoy the discomfort.
  • reminded me constantly that “whenever you feel like quitting, think about why you started”. Whoever said/wrote this quote, thank you.
  • made me feel grateful for what I have today. I can’t help comparing today with what I was doing and where I was this time last year and every time I do that, I feel ever so thankful for the relentless nature of time to keep moving.
  • given me the opportunity and ability to evaluate a potential business idea. It doesn’t matter that it did not materialise, I’m just glad that I tried and almost took it up. The mere exciting thought of ‘this could probably be my very first business’ was well worth the try. I now know more than ever that I want to have a business of my own one day. This is my happy corner for this post. (Happy Corner #6; What is Happy Corner? Read this)
  • given me happy times with family. I love them more everyday.
  • introduced me to ‘Star Wars’. Yes, I haven’t seen star wars until very recently. But now that I started watching the series, I can’t wait to see parts 4, 5 and 6. So far, my favourite characters are Obi-Wan Kenobi, Master Yoda and Padme.
  • also shown me movies like Godzilla (2014, of course) and Edge of Tomorrow. My rating? Godzilla: a waste of 123 minutes of my life, there is no need to spend 123 minutes to figure that out. Just don’t see it. Edge of Tomorrow: Clever. Actually, I think I want to say that it is me who is clever because I understood the movie in my first attempt. That said, the movie was indeed engaging, had a bit of humour and well, it was in 3D 🙂 So yes, go see it.
  • made me feel nostalgic about Edinburgh. We were this close to travelling to Edinburgh in July but it did not go according to plan. Edinburgh, I miss you so much but there’s a time for everything and I know I will come see you again one day.
  • got me addicted to 11 pm rides to have ice cream. Yay to summer 🙂
  • talked me into getting back to doing yoga regularly. Well thank you for my sore legs!
  • motivated me to finish my first painting on a tee. Not my best work but I like it. I did not wear it yet so I don’t know with certainty whether it is street friendly.
  • almost made me give up on Candy Crush. But alas the addiction is back. I’m not proud of it.
  • made me realise that I’m one of the biggest procrastinators/lazy bugs and should have written a post many days earlier.
  • almost come to an end and that is going to mark half year 2014. Half year! Is it just me or is the earth revolving 10 times faster these days?